Former Olympic skier Alain Baxter will make his track cycling debut at the Revolution race on December 5, with a special appearance in the 200m time trial event. Baxter, who was controversially stripped of a bronze medal in 2002, retired from skiing earlier this year but has since set his sights on returning to Olympic contention as a track cyclist.
A bout of flu ruled him out of appearing at the British National Track Championships last month. Now fully recovered, Baxter will try again at the Revolution, which will also be his first time riding on race wheels.
Baxter will compete against eight other riders in the 200-metre time trial, racing as a special guest rather than for one of the Revolution teams. He'll face stiff competition from Jamie Staff, Craig Maclean, Ross Edgar, Matt Crampton and Roberto Chiappa. Baxter will be hoping to have beginner's luck on his side, but the Scotsman relishes a challenge.
"The Revolution will be my first competitive race, so it's a bit like entering the unknown," Baxter said, "but I'm really excited about it. I've been training hard at the sprints and was really disappointed about having to pull out of the nationals. This will be my first chance to discover how I measure up against the pros."
While Baxter may be an unknown quantity going into his first race, he certainly has the right training credentials behind him. His coach Dave Clark previously worked with fellow Scots Sir Chris Hoy and Craig Maclean, and it was Maclean who pointed Baxter in the direction of a change to track cycling.
"I've known Craig for quite a while," said Baxter. "We grew up not far from each other in Scotland and our families know each other. When I decided to retire from skiing, Craig encouraged me to get involved with the athlete transfer programme at the Institute of Sport and, as I've always done a bit of cycling, it just went from there."
When asked about going up against Maclean in the time trial, Baxter laughed. "It's going to be pretty interesting going head-to-head with Craig, he’s an awesome sprinter. There’s no doubt about it, I'm up against a world-class field at Revolution. I'm just going to give it my best shot."